Georgia was one of 28 states that landed in the lowest-rated category of the Human Rights Campaign’s annual State Equality Index.
Georgia received poor marks for having no hate crimes law, nondiscrimination protections or laws against conversion therapy. HRC also considered the state’s HIV criminalization laws and transgender exclusions in state Medicaid coverage in its ranking.
The state needs to follow the lead of cities that have recently adopted broad LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, according to Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.
“Municipal leaders are stepping up to ensure their residents are able to live, work and do business in communities that value them, and now it is time that state leaders begin to address this disparity,” he said in a press release. “Until we have explicit statewide protections, Georgia's reputation as a state will continue to be in jeopardy.”
HRC ranked Georgia in the “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality” category, which the state landed in in 2019. Two states — Utah and Wisconsin — were rated “Building Equality.” Three states — Hawaii, Iowa and New Hampshire — were rated as “Solidifying Equality.” And 17 states were rated highest with “Working Toward Innovative Equality.”
Georgia received positive marks for having a law against cyberbullying, requiring schools to have suicide prevention policies, having LGBTQ-inclusive juvenile justice policies and including transgender athletes in sports.
But a Georgia lawmaker filed a bill in December that would ban transgender youth from competing in athletic events at public facilities.
Click here to view Georgia’s full State Equality Index report in detail.
HRC President Alphonso David said states must provide better LGBTQ protections.
“In the absence of federal non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community, states must put policies in place to ensure equality for their residents, workers and visitors,” he said in a press release. “In 2020 and beyond, the Human Rights Campaign will continue to work with our partners to defeat anti-LGBTQ legislation in the states and secure new protections for our community, both at the state and federal level.”
Georgia could improve its standing on LGBTQ equality with the passage of several bills in this year’s legislative session, which began in January. Lawmakers are considering an HIV decriminalization bill, a hate crimes bill, a ban on conversion therapy and an LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights bill.